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CWW’s “Cooperation in Water Sector” panellists address GERD impacts on Egypt  - Daily News Egypt

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CWW’s “Cooperation in Water Sector” panellists address GERD impacts on Egypt 

In case of severe drought, the filling period should be extended


The issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and its impacts on Egypt, was discussed in the day two’s plenary session at the 2nd edition of the Cairo Water Week (CWW), on Monday.

Under the title: “Cooperation in Water Sector” a panel of Egyptian, African, and European experts addressed how GERD will affect Egypt’s socio-economic situation through decreasing Egypt’s historical share of the Nile’s water, which could trigger for conflict.

Hani Sweliem, Managing Director of the UNESCO Chair in Hydrological Changes,

who was the moderator of the session pointed out that Ethiopia is not suffering any sort of drought or water shortage, but is one of the countries that lack water management.

Sweliem added that the problem between Egypt and Ethiopia is not about filling the dam but refilling the dam, noting that gigantic hydropower dams such as GERD have severe environmental and socio-economic impacts.

Regarding the Egyptian proposal to Ethiopia, Hesham Bekhit, professor of engineering hydrology who was involved in the GERD file in the Ministry of Irrigation, explained that Egypt suggested filling the dam in stages according to adaptive and cooperative principles, and filling the GERD to reach the full turbine level of 595 cubic metres in two years.

In case of exceptional severe drought, the filling period should be extended, to maintain the critical level at High Aswan Dam.

Bekhit said that Ethiopia rejected the proposal, delaying negotiations over the filling and operation of the GERD in the case of severe drought, which is not acceptable to the Egyptian side as it puts the country in danger.

According to Bekhit even if the Egyptian proposal was applied, Egypt will suffer harm as a result of the filling of the GERD, especially in case of extreme drought. He stressed that Egypt needs to be present in the implementation of the rules governing the filling and operation of the GERD, as well as establishing a reliable forecast system. It is also important that there is a system in place that would allow for the free flow and exchange of data between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

Eelco Van Beek, Egypt’s team leader for the GERD impact study agreed with Bekhit regarding the impacts of GERD on Egypt even in the case of Ethiopia accepting Cairo’s proposal.

Van Beek told Daily News Egypt that Egypt will also be affected and will suffer damage but not massive, and Sudan will also be affected. He pointed out that constructing water reservoirs in upstream countries is useful and better than constructing lakes in downstream countries like lake Nasser in Egypt.

Regarding the GERD impacts, Van Beek explained that it will decrease the amount of water available for agriculture in Egypt, and as a result, decreasing agriculture and employment.

Additionally, the GERD will reduce the hydropower produced by the High Aswan Dam, and restrict navigation between Aswan and Luxor, in addition to increasing salinisation in the Nile Delta.

Regarding the GERD impacts, Van Beek explained that it will decrease the amount of water available for agriculture in Egypt, and as a result, decreasing agriculture and employment. 

Additionally, the GERD will reduce the hydropower produced by the High Aswan Dam, and restrict navigation between Aswan and Luxor, in addition to increasing salinisation in the Nile Delta. 

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